Palo Duro Canyon

Starting about a million years ago a branch of the Red River carved a massive canyon through the northern Texas plains. The walls of the Palo Duro Canyon, meaning "hard wood" canyon and named after the hardy juniper trees that grow in the canyon's sides, plunge down 1,000 feet (305m) at points, exposing the multi-layered coloured rock strata. The colours are particularly brightly picked out on the spires and pinnacles that the forces of nature have carved out on the canyon floor.

Most of the Palo Duro Canyon was privately owned for many years and was deeded to the state by its private owners in 1933. Groups of workers immediately went to work to create a system of roads, visitor centre and cabins throughout the area, and in 1934 the park opened its doors. The Palo Duro Canyon State Park is a few miles east of Amarillo, reached via Texas 217 highway. The park offers picnic and camping facilities, a visitor's centre with a shop, an amphitheatre where shows are staged, and horseback riding trips.

The park also has a famous historic site where the last great battle between troops and Indians took place in Texas. In 1874 Colonel Ranald Mackenzie and his 4th Cavalry defeated a large band of Native Americans camped in the canyon and transported them to reservations in Oklahoma. visitors can watch the park's longhorns being fed by rangers at appointed times every few days, and occasional educational talks are hosted by the park to educate visitors on various aspects of life in the canyon over the years.

Address: The park is located about 12 miles (19km) east of Canyon, on State Highway 217

Website: www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/palo_duro/

Telephone: (806) 488 2227

Opening times: November to March: Sunday to Thursday 8am-6pm, Friday to Saturday 8am-8pm. April to May: Sunday to Thursday 8am-8pm, Friday to Saturday 8am-10pm. June to August: Daily 8am-10pm. September to October: Sunday to Thursday 8am-8pm, Friday to Saturday 8am-10pm.

Admission: $5 adults; children under 13 are free; other concessions are available.